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Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita

Other Names for this Disease
  • Arthrogryposis
  • Congenital arthromyodysplasia
  • Congenital multiple arthrogryposis
  • Fibrous ankylosis of multiple joints
  • Guerin-Stern syndrome
More Names
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What causes arthrogryposis multiplex congenita?

The exact cause of arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) is not fully understood.[1] The most common cause of AMC is believed to be decreased fetal movement, which in itself can have multiple causes.[2] When a joint is not moved for a period of time, extra connective tissue often grows around it, fixing it in position. Lack of joint movement also means that tendons connecting to the joint are not stretched to their normal length; short tendons, in turn, make normal joint movement difficult.[3]

In general, there are four causes for limitation of joint movement before birth:

  1. Abnormal development of muscles. In most cases, the specific cause for this cannot be identified. Suspected causes include muscle diseases, maternal fever during pregnancy, and viruses which may damage cells which transmit nerve impulses to the muscles.[4][3]
  2. Insufficient room in the uterus for normal movement. For example, multiple fetuses may be present, the mother may lack normal amounts of amniotic fluid or there may be uterine structural abnormalities.[4][3]
  3. Malformations of the central nervous system and/or spinal cord. In these cases, arthrogryposis is usually accompanied by a wide range of other symptoms.[3]
  4. Tendons, bones, joints or joint linings may develop abnormally. For example, tendons may not be connected to the proper place in a joint.[3]

AMC may also occur as part of certain genetic disorders that can be inherited as autosomal recessiveautosomal dominant or X-linked traits. It may also occur as part of chromosome disorders (for example, trisomy 18).[2]

Last updated: 6/12/2012

  1. My Child Has...Arthrogryposis. Children's Hospital Boston. 2007; Accessed 2/2/2009.
  2. Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. NORD. June 21, 2010; Accessed 6/12/2012.
  3. Arthrogryposis: What it is and how it is treated. A National Support Group for Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AVENUES). Accessed 10/15/2013.
  4. Chen H. Arthrogryposis. eMedicine. August 8, 2007; Accessed 2/2/2009.